Marijuana, sales tax revenues continue to fall in Trinidad (Colorado)

TRINIDAD —  Despite hearty efforts to rejuvenate Trinidad’s economy in recent years, revenue generated for the city via sales and marijuana taxes have continued to slip downward, as evidenced by Finance Director Chery Navarette’s updated financial report presentation for the first quarter of 2024, delivered to the city council at a June 24 work session.

“General fund revenues are under-collected by $319,000. We’re down 2.14% in comparison from March 31 last year,” said Navarette.

“Sales taxes are down by $291,000. In reconciling sales tax reports received from the state, I’ve noticed that some marijuana dispensaries and a couple of hotels aren’t reporting on a timely basis,” Navarette said.

“Our marijuana sales tax is down by $29,000,” said Navarette, “but we did decrease the budget by $507,000 from last year, so we should be on track.”

Navarette reported that intergovernmental revenue was under-collected by $123,000 but this number was skewed by some $300,000 in severance tax revenue the city won’t see until September and a $240,000 Brownfields grant the city hadn’t billed against yet.

The municipal landfill was also under collected to the tune of $76,000 but Navarette noted that revenue was expected to increase during the warmer months.

According to Navarette, sales tax revenue could still bounce back to something closer to last year’s totals. “We collect most of our sales tax in July and August, so it’s too soon to tell,” Navarette said. “But I’m feeling that sales tax is probably going to come in under collected this year overall. That’s how I feel at the moment.”

City Manager Steve Ruger said slumping sales tax revenue was a problem not unique to Trinidad. “Denver had to cut their budget by a staggering amount. It was tens of millions of dollars this year. It is just the state of the economy right now,” said Ruger.

“This winter was exceptionally hard on our merchants downtown because the snowstorms hit on the weekend when they’re usually very busy,” said Mayor Karen Griego. “So this isn’t good news, but it’s not as bad as it could have been.”

Regarding drops in tourism and tourism-generated revenue for the city, Ruger said, “Our lodging tax is trending higher than it was pre-pandic, so that is something positive.”

In terms of spending, Navarette said the city was over-expended by $57,000. “It’s not concerning at the moment. I might be putting out an email to staff to tighten their belts, which they’re good about not expending more than they have to, but we may have to pull back a little.”

Departments that were over-expended included IT, but this was expected as the department renewed subscriptions and software at the beginning of the year. Facilities and maintenance was similarly over-expended by $32,000 due to large beginning of the year janitorial costs.

“The animal shelter is over-expended by $88,000 to run the shelter for the first three months. We did not budget for the animal shelter because everything happened at the end of the year, so this is probably going to require a budget amendment at the end of the year when we actually start to get the feel for what it is going to cost to run the shelter,” said Navarette. “In turn, you can see that the shelter brought in $17,000 in revenue.”

Navarette said the city did budget $150,000 towards the operations of the animal shelter, but she believed the total cost for the year would be closer to $350,000.

$150,000 in lodging tax projects

Also during the work session, the council heard a presentation from Joe Kozlowicz with the Lodging Tax Advisory Board (LTAB) about plans in the works for spending up to $150,000 in lodging tax funds earmarked for recreational facilities and improvements.

The purpose of the recreational allocations were to foster improved quality of life for both residents and visitors to Trinidad which would in turn increase tourism through improvements that create a more attractive and vibrant city.

“We want everyone who spends time in Trinidad to walk away saying, ‘Wow! I love this town!’” said Kozlowicz.

Towards this end, Kozlowicz said the LTAB has met with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board to identify high priority, high impact, low effort projects to recommend for funding.

Three projects were identified for immediate recommendations, including the construction of additional miles of trail at the Wormhole complex near Simpson’s Rest.

“The city provided a letter of support and a monetary match for a recent Colorado Parks and Wildlife grant that was awarded to the Trinidad Trails Alliance,” said Kozlowicz. “With this grant, we have


Marijuana, sales tax revenues continue to fall in Trinidad 

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